An upcoming Rogue Trader campaign, and the perils of GMing

(Art by Games Workshop & Fantasy Flight Games)

So, one thing I’ve recently decided to do on this blog is post summaries and anecdotes of RPG sessions I’ve been involved in. This decision comes too late for the last campaign I was in, sadly, because when I started the blog it was already a third of the way through, and I didn’t want to have to rely on my faulty memory to backtrack and explain who the characters were, what had happened so far, etc etc. Which is a pity, because the campaign in question was absolutely hilarious (essentially a Rifts campaign set in the multiverse of Rick and Morty).*

The next campaign for my group, however, is one I’m going to run. Now, I am no stranger to GMing: my first effort was several years ago, and was essentially using the Aberrant rules to the setting of the Marvel Universe (at the time I didn’t know of, or have access to, the official Marvel RPG rules, and unfortunately even if I wanted to switch over now it would screw over the legacy characters). The group was essentially “Omega Flight,” the Canadian government’s more hush-hush version of Alpha Flight, and I had them facing off against an ongoing conspiracy involving mutation-inducing flowers and extradimensional robots. It was a bit of a clunky mess, as it was my first time GMing, and often I found myself stumbling quite a bit in trying to get the players from plot point A to plot point B (especially at one point when the party obsessed minor detail that was of no relevance to the plot). It didn’t help that I found it difficult to create villains who could actually threaten the party, since one of my players had min-maxed his character to become a nigh-unstoppable battering ram.

Still, it was a fun experience, my party enjoyed themselves, and I learned a lot of valuable lessons about how to GM properly. This led to a sequel campaign a few years later, and while it had its own clunky moments, I like to think that, story-wise, it actually turned out a lot better. If there were any issues I had looking back at that campaign, it was that I found myself turning into a bit of a control freak and railroading players far too often– something that I have since tried to be aware of.

My last campaign, though, was about two years ago, and was a much more daring (and flawed) undertaking: a Rifts campaign set in the Fallout universe (in particular, in post-apocalyptic Canada). I had a blast setting up this campaign: I wanted the experience to emulate the Fallout games as much as possible, rather than just be another Rifts game, and to that end, I set about creating my own set of house rules that included rules for radiation, character/race rules for Super Mutants and Ghouls, and above all, perks. In addition, I spent a huge amount deciding what post-apocalyptic Southern Ontario was like.  Aside from the ruined city of Ronto (which is canon in Fallout), I had a blast renaming certain locations in Ontario (Markham and Huntsville became Arkham and Hunter’s Vale, for instance), and creating things like major environmental/geological hazards, new mutated creatures, and outlining the various factions and individuals vying for power in this region (including the Peacekeepers of Ronto, the Enclave remnants and the Ojibwe Confederacy). Above all, I tried to stick to as much of a pseudo-1960s feel as possible, even to the point of making a playlist of thematic 50s and 60s songs to play on Youtube while the party was travelling in-game.

Unfortunately, at this time, I was also studying for a major HR certification exam that was a major source of worry and stress for me. To make matters worse, work was a constant and time-consuming factor for me, and I would often arrive home too mentally and physically exhausted to devise things for the next weekend session. To make matters worse, I just could not figure out the Rifts rules, no matter how much I tried, and so frequently throughout the session I was faced with difficult questions and, even worse, annoyance from players who knew the system better than me. All of these factors resulted in the campaign becoming clunky and haphazard, and there was more than one occasion when I found myself getting frustrated in-session. It didn’t help that I had no clear idea of where I wanted the campaign to ultimately go, and soon my lack of direction and vision was becoming evident.

It was about midway through where I had originally wanted to end that we reached a good break point. At this point, my party suggested we end here for now, as my stress and anxiety were not only becoming evident, but were also having a visibly detrimental effect on the campaign. And so, my Fallout campaign came to an end as a clunky, poorly-executed mess, and to date, we still have not gone back to it. In part, this is because I no longer know how it will end, or indeed, what the major plot point of it is even supposed to be anymore. This campaign remains a major source of disappointment for me, as I had really wanted to do right by the setting, and feel that I ultimately was not able to do it justice or make it fun for my party.

It goes without saying that this time around, I am hoping to do much better. This time around I will be running a Rogue Trader campaign, and though this is another system that I had to learn from scratch, I am a little more confident this time. Partly, it is because my life feels a little less chaotic right now, but also it is because there were a huge number of player and GM aids printed for Rogue Trader before Games Workshop pulled its license away from Fantasy Flight Games (something that I am still annoyed about, because FFG’s 40k roleplaying books were amazing). More importantly, Warhammer 40k is a setting that I know the background of intimately, and Rogue Trader featured plenty of campaign books that I intend to borrow a lot of elements from. And best of all, Rogue Trader is a campaign where, if nothing else is coming to mind, I can simply trust my players to follow an endeavour, and see what randomness space decides to throw their way.

I hope to post more on my upcoming campaign soon– the characters, the background, and above all, the weekly sessions as soon as it begins. Wish me luck, internet!

 

*If anyone DOES want me to share what happened in Rifts and Morty (as the GM has called it), please let me know.

Thoughts: The return of Jean-Luc Picard and the current state of Star Trek

(Photo: CBS/Getty)

 

So, I wanted to share my thoughts, as a lifelong Trekkie, on the news of Sir Patrick Stewart returning to Star Trek. As has been reported by a million and a half news outlets now (here it is on The Verge, just for your edification),  Sir Patrick has signed on to a new Star Trek series in the works that will explore ““the next chapter of Picard’s life.” As someone who practically grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, my initial reaction, of course, was giddy excitement, a lot of jumping up and down and indecipherable whooping noise, but once the initial excitement settled down, I pondered, and became a little more perturbed on the issue. At the moment, my opinions on the return of Jean-Luc Picard are somewhat mixed.

I say this for a number of reasons. On the one hand, as I mentioned before, this is very exciting news for a fan of TNG. Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard was the face of the show, the moral and ethical centre that held together a crew of scientists, engineers, and occasional philosophers. While Picard was not a perfect captain by any stretch of the imagination (there are lengthy debates among Trekkies over how selective Picard was in his adherance to the Prime Directive), Stewart delivered his lines with such gravitas that it was impossible not to pay attention to him– I recall one commentator saying that Stewart could read a grocery list and make it sound compelling. A plethora of endlessly quotable  (“Engage,” “Make it so,” and any time he called Commander Riker “Number One”) and admittedly quite powerful speeches simply cemented Picard’s status as, arguably, the pillar upon which the show rested.

However, as far as anyone knows, Picard’s return will be a solo one, without any of his old crew there with him. As of this time, there has been no confirmation of any of the other old TNG cast returning for this show. On the one hand, I am fine with this, as I don’t want to see them try to make “TNG: Part 2.” However, the fact that Picard’s return is a solitary one, happening in a storyline that (presumably) takes place years after the events of TNG, feels strangely jarring to me. In my opinion, the season finale of TNG and the movies rounded off TNG and gave it….maybe not a satisfactory ending (Star Trek: Nemesis was anything but that), but a sense of closure all the same. To suddenly bring Picard back after years of TNG being off the air, after I had long accepted that his story was done, feels strange to me and disrupts this feeling of closure. I had always worked under the assumption that if I ever wanted to look at Picard’s post-TNG years, that I should turn to the various novels, comics, etc that the franchise has churned out. Now that they are actually answering this question with an actual show, I’m wondering if those said books and comics will be nullified from canon, much as the expanded universe of Star Wars was when the newer batch of movies came out.

Then there’s the nagging feeling that pulling Picard back into Star Trek is in and of itself an act of desperation. The last time an old character was brought on as major character on a Star Trek show, it was when they brought Worf onto Deep Space Nine…and that was a transparent attempt to bring back viewers. This feels like the exact same thing: “Hey, we know you have all have mixed feelings on Discovery, but hey, Picard is coming back! Exciting, huh?” Some may argue, though, that adding Worf to the show did in fact boost its ratings, and his presence did a lot to bolster the storyline by bringing in an entire Klingon subplot and cast of side characters (including Martok, the greatest Klingon to ever grace the screen), and I will admit that Deep Space Nine, especially in its later seasons, competes fiercely with The Next Generation as my favourite Star Trek show. Even so, Worf’s presence on the show, lengthy as it was, never felt any less forced or artificial for me. Perhaps the new Picard series may be just what Star Trek needs as an alternative to Discovery.

Speaking of Discovery, the current writing and directorial team in charge of the franchise leaves me feeling uneasy (despite the fact that Michael Chabon apparently is on the writing team for the new Picard series). I won’t hesitate to say that my enthusiasm for Discovery went cold pretty quickly, and while it is not a terrible show by any stretch of the imagination, it is not one that managed to sustain my interest either. Between horribly transparent plot twists, a protagonist I fell out of love with fairly quickly, a central plot that wasn’t sure what it wanted to do and a cast I really didn’t care too much about (barring one or two characters), Discovery brought nothing new to the table while at the same time doing nothing to give me a reason to stay. Of course, maybe the show just needed a season to find its feet, and will improve with time. Maybe they will apply the lessons they learned to the new Picard show. Maybe.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed, of course, and hopefully, whoever will be writing the new show will know what to do with the bestest captain ever (I will fight anyone who says otherwise). But until then, I can’t even be cautiously optimistic. Just cautious.

Battle Summary: Drukhari vs Death Guard

(above image by GW, used without permission)

Last weekend, I managed to get my second game in with my Drukhari. I was going up against a Death Guard player who had said ahead of time that he would be bringing an “experimental list.” My only game against the Death Guard thus far had been with my Sisters of Battle, and it had ended horribly due to a combination of Poxwalkers, Typhus, and Mortarion. This time around, I had no idea what to expect, so I brought a list that I hoped would be able to deal with whatever Nurgle’s rotters would throw at me:

FLAYED SKULL BATTALION:
Archon- blaster, Djinn Blade, Hatred Eternal- 93
Archon- blaster, huskblade- 93
5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster- 47
5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster- 47
5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster- 47
Sslyth- 27
8 Mandrakes- 128
Razorwing Jetfighter- splinter cannon, disintegrators- 145
Venom- dual splinter cannons- 75
Venom- dual splinter cannons- 75
Venom- dual splinter cannons- 75
Ravager- 3 dark lances- 148
Ravager- 3 dark lances- 148
Razorwing Jetfighter- disintegrator cannons- 145

CURSED BLADE BATTALION:
Succubus- archite glaive, blast pistol, Stimm Addict, Adrenalight, Serpentin- 60
Succubus- shardnet and impaler, Hypex- 55
5 Wyches- shardnet and impaler, Hekatrix w. power sword, Grave Lotus- 64
5 Wyches- shardnet and impaler, Hekatrix w. power sword, Splintermind- 64
20 Wyches- 2 shardnets and impalers, Hekatrix w. power sword, Adrenalight- 166
6 Reaver Jetbikes- 2 blasters, 2 grav talons, Painbringer- 154
Raider- disintegrator- 80
Raider- disintegrator- 80

PROPHETS OF FLESH PATROL:
Haemonculus- stinger pistol,, electrocorrosive whip, Diabolic Soothsayer- 81
5 Wracks- 45

Total: 1945

Unfortunately, I had nothing left in my model range to fill this void in points. Potentially, I could have taken a Lhamaean, or even another Sslyth, or even just filled out the numbers of some of my Wych squads/Mandrakes/Reavers. That’s hindsight for you, though).

Total CP: 13 (-1 for Alliance of Agony, -1 for extra relics, +d3 for Diabolic Soothsayer)

The general idea of this list was to keep as many splinter weapons/blasters on hand as possible to deal with Daemon Princes, Bloat Drones, etc, while also having some close combat punch just in case (and, naturally, plenty of mobility). In particular, I wanted to experiment with the Cult of the Cursed Blade and a giant mob of 20 or so Wyches coming out of the webway– I hopefully, they would help deal with the giant unbreakable Poxwalker tarpits I faced the last time around.

My opponent ran the following (from memory):

DEATH GUARD SPEARHEAD:
Daemon Prince- wings, 2 malefic talons, Suppurating Plate, Miasma of Pestilence, Rotten Constitution
3 Deathshroud Terminators
3 Myphilitic Blight Haulers
Plagueburst Crawler- 2 plaguespitters
Plagueburst Crawler- 2 plaguespitters
Plagueburst Crawler- 2 plaguespitters

NURGLE DAEMONS BATTALION (I think…he had just 1 HQ, though, so I don’t think that’s right):
Herald of Nurgle- Curse of the Leper
4 Nurgling Swarms
4 Nurgling Swarms
4 Nurgling Swarms
4 Nurgling Swarms

DEATH GUARD SUPERHEAVY AUXILIARY DETACHMENT:
Mortarion- Plague Wind, Pestilential Vitality

We played one of the ITC missions, on a diagonal deployment on a table with sparse cover. I was, and still am, completely unfamiliar with ITC missions, but for my two special objectives I chose Monster Hunter and Recon (I think) He chose the character-hunting objective and also Recon. I’ll be honest, my memory is hazy, and I was essentially a casual player up against someone prepping for the ITC.

This is only going to be a short-form batrep, partly because my army is still in a partial stage of assembly/painting/renovation, and partly because my opponent needed to be elsewhere in four hours, and I didn’t want to slow the game down by taking pictures. I’ll just instead quickly go over what happened.

DEPLOYMENT:

Before the game, I used my extra command points to give my non-warlord Succubus the Traitor’s Embrace (aka the “kill me and I explode” relic), and my Haemonculus the Helm of Spite so he could counter enemy psykers.

We played on a board with a few hollowed-out buildings on either side, with plenty of no man’s land in between. He set up with his forces spread across his deployment zone, with his Crawlers at the forefront and his Blight Haulers, Mortarion, Daemon Prince and everything else sheltering behind them. I, meanwhile, clustered as many skimmers as possible behind the two buildings, with all of my characters going into Wych Raiders, along with the giant Wych blob and Mandrakes in reserve, and the Wracks in the far corner, out of sight and ready to redeploy via Black Cornucopians if need be. I one serious deployment mistake, however: I one Wych Raider (with exploding Succubus, warlord Archon and Sslyth) far forward on the left flank, along with the Reaver Jebtikes, with both units out of cover and practically staring down the Death Guard’s guns. The reason for this was I was gambling on getting the first turn, zooming forward and assaulting/blastering stuff right from the get go.

Guess what? I didn’t get the first turn, and I didn’t seize the initiative. Ahahaha help.

TURN 1

His Crawlers all move up, as do his Blight Haulers, with one going right into the face of my Reavers, while his Nurglings all scamper around to grab objectives. Mortarion and his Daemon Prince advance close to the middle of his force, with his Deathshroud staying close to Mortarion to tank wounds for him. The psychic phase is largely ineffective, but shooting is painful: exposed out in the open, 4 of my Reavers go down, as does the Raider carrying the Wyches, Sslyth, explosive Succubus and my warlord. No one is hurt, but now almost all of my stuff is out in the open.

My turn, I try to advance my characters for cover, while my Sslyth stands in front of them. My Reavers zoom behind one Crawler, while my Wyches move to assault it next turn. Honestly, on that flank, I pretty much figure its all a lost cause and I’m playing for time. The rest of my army pulls a refused flank manoeuvre, with everything (bar a Ravager and a Venom, which are too far back) flying down the right flank to concentrate fire on a Crawler. I had both my Archon and Haemonculus get out as well, the former to get his reroll 1s bubble in action, the latter to make sure the Helm of Spite was on the board. Shooting sees concentrated fire bring down the Crawler surprisingly quickly– my opponent’s invulnerable and Disgustingly Resilient saves were awful– while random splinter fire kills half a unit of Nurglings (those little blighters are tough!) My Reavers, meanwhile, do 4-odd wounds to the Crawler.

Then, in the assault phase, I commit a blunder: I charged my Reavers into the nearest Plagueburst Crawler, 1) because I figured they wouldn’t survive the next turn, and 2) intending for them to eat overwatch so that the Wyches (and hopefully any surviving Reavers) could tie the big tank up for a turn and deny it its awful shooting. The Crawler’s plaguespitters, however, showed me why this was a bad idea, vaporizing both Reavers in one round of overwatch. I was about to charge in with the Wyches as well when my opponent reminded me that, in 8th edition, units can overwatch as many times as they want as long as they are not locked in combat. I had been working under the assumption that overwatch worked like it did in 7th, where units could only ever overwatch once per phase. Needless to say, this was a rather humbling learning moment for me. The Wyches stayed put, though that gave me no solace considering that I had just wasted the Reavers for nothing.

TURN 2

In the Death Guard turn, his stuff shuffled around, with the Daemon Prince leaping right up in the face of my massed vehicles on the right flank, Morty flying up towards my Ravager in the centre, and the rest of his stuff angling for better lines of fire/grabbing objectives. In the psychic phase, he failed to case Miasma on the Daemon Prince, and miraculously failed Smite, but his Herald did manage to heal a few wounds off of the Crawler that had all to recently spat on the Reavers. Mortarion then cast Pestilential Vigour on the Daemon Prince, but the Helm of Spite denied it, inflicting a few wounds on Mortarion via Perils in the bargain!

In the shooting phase, though, all but 1 of the disembarked Wyches were blasted down, as was the poor Sslyth. The middle Ravager took the lion’s share of the firepower, and despite me using Lightning Reflexes, it was still dropped down to 3 wounds. In the assault phase, the Daemon Prince charged the Razorwing, shrugged off a crapload of overwatch, and proceeded to shred my poor plane before consolidating into a nearby Razorwing. The damn thing was now right in the middle of most of my army…right, I later realized, where my opponent wanted it.

TURN 3

In my turn, the Mandrakes arrived in the opponent’s backfield, while I opened a webway portal and brought my big mob of Wyches in as well. I hoped to use both of these units to clear the backfield of Nurglings. In the proper movement phase, I had no bloody idea what to do with my warlord, as she was surrounded by Crawlers, Mortarion, and the incoming Death Guard, so I hid her, while the exploding Succubus and the last Wych went after Mortarion. The injured Ravager moved more fully out of cover so it could grab a nearby objective. Meanwhile, my big huddle on the right flank…continued to huddle, with my vheicles all circling the Daemon Prince to rapid fire it to death (save for one Venom further back, which zoomed up so that it could shoot at either the Prince or Mortarion). This wound up being a big mistake: instead of using my superior mobility to go out, grab objectives, etc, I was castling in a corner of the board. As it was, my opponent’s more slow-moving army already had control of the board and a sizeable point advantage. As of writing this, I also realize I should have disembarked my other Wych unit + Succubus from their own Raider to go after the Nurglings as well. I really, really wasn’t thinking in this game.

In shooting, almost everything that could fired into the Daemon Prince, and despite its 2+ save, 5+ invulnerable and Disgusting Resilience, brought it down to 1 wound with massed poison and lance fire. What few shots I threw against the nearby Crawler, sadly, did no damage. The damaged Ravager whiffed against Mortarion, as did my warlord. The Mandrakes, however, unleashed their baleblasts at a nearby squad of Nurglings, and managed to kill two bases and leave another hanging on one wound.

In close combat, the Archon charged the Daemon Prince, the last Wych charged Mortarion (and died to his area effect power), the exploding Succubus also charged Mortarion (and took 2 wounds to said power), and the Mandrakes and big mob of Wyches each charged a unit of Nurglings, respectively. Everyone’s charges made it in…except, crucially, for my Mandrakes and my Wyches, both of whom failed even with rerolls! Arrgh! In combat, at least, my Archon finished off the Daemon Prince, using Soul Trap to then boost his stats. The Succubus, predictably, did nothing to Mortarion, was squished in return and exploded…and proceeded to do 1 mortal wound. Annoyed, I used a Command Point to reroll the explosion…and got a 2…one of which was then saved by Mortarion’s Resilience. I had just sacrificed a character and two command points (one for the reroll, one for her relic) for ONE wound on Mortarion. Grumble mutter grumble…

TURN 3

At the top of turn 3, Mortarion flew down to say hi to my bunched-up vehicles and introduce them to his area-effect plague ability. His Blight Haulers moved back to the centre of the board for better line of sight on my stuff, his Crawlers shuffled…and that was mainly it. Oh yes, and his Deathshroud advanced up menacingly on my warlord.

In the psychic phase, the Herald healed up Mortarion, while Mortarion himself managed to cast Plague Wind– I was unable to stop it, and one of my Venoms went crashing down after taking one mortal wound too many, forcing the Kabalites inside to disembark. In the shooting phase, things got even worse: my damaged Ravager went down, as did another of my Venoms, while the Kabalite squad that had previously been forced out was wiped out by missile fire. One Crawler devoted all of its firepower to my nearby warlord…but this time the dice favoured me, as she went on to make save after save with her shadow field, and emerged from the bombardment unscathed. The same could not be said for my big Wych mob, who lost 6 of their number to mortar fire, and another to morale.

In the assault phase, Mortarion assaulted, managing to get in contact with my Haemonculus, Archon, and the other disembarked Kabalite squad. Silence swung out in great arcs, slicing down my Haemonculus and all 5 Kabalites. In return, my Archon swung back, and actually managed to ding a wound off of the big guy in return. His Deathshroud, perhaps wisely, declined to charge my warlord after that display of shadowfieldery.

In my turn, I withdrew my Archon from combat, and disembarked my Succubus and squad of Wyches to go after Nurglings. Speaking of which, my now-reduced Wych blob moved up to charge one Nurgling squad, while my Mandrakes slunk up towards another. All of my vehicles shuffled to get line of sight on various things, and my Archon warlord moved up to charge either the Deathshroud or the Crawler as necessary.

In the shooting phase, my Archon failed to damage the Crawler with her blaster. My Mandrakes, though, did one better, wiping out the Nurglings that they had maimed previously. All the rest of my shooting went into Mortarion, and proceeded to drop the big guy down to 9 wounds! The wound up netting me some points as per Big Game Hunter, so I was quite happy with that.

In the assault phase, the big Wych mob went into one squad of Nurglings, the smaller squad went into another, the Succubus went into a third (that had already taken damage from my first shooting phase), and my Mandrakes went into the Nurgle Herald. Finally, the warlord Archon had a choice of dealing with either the Crawler or the Deathshroud, though my opponent warned me that no matter which I charged, the Archon would be receiving a lot of auto-hits on overwatch. In the end, I figured it was either charge or be charged, and sent the Archon into the Deathshroud. The bodyguards of Mortarion then proceeded to unleash a lot of auto-hits from their poisoned flamers, inflicting some 9 wounds on the Archon, of which she saved all…but one, dropping her shadow field. Crap. Everything, at least, made it charge this time.

In close combat, the Mandrakes sliced the Nurgle Herald into tiny, rotting bits, ending his psychic shenanigans once and for all. The giant Wych mob, in turn, wiped out two bases of Nurglings and left a third hovering on a wound. Hmm, I was expecting a bit more from them. Finally, my small Wych squad did only to wounds to their Nurgling opponents for two wounds in return, while the Succubus did two wounds to another Nurgling unit and took a wound of her own. Hmm, that was underwhelming.

Finally, the Archon swept into the Deathshroud, unleashing 7 strength 4 attacks, rerolling failed to wound rolls and doing d3 damage each…and did absolutely nada, as all of her damage bounced off Cataphractii armour and Disgusting Resilience. In return, the Deathshrouds’ scythes hacked my poor Archon to ribbons. And thus new model curse reared its ugly head.

The only picture I took of the game, showing my Archon’s last moments.

At this point, though, we were running out of time, and my opponent needed to get going. I can’t remember what the final score was, only that I was losing quite decisively, so I called it then and there.

Result: Death Guard victory!

OBSERVATIONS:
-Looking back, I didn’t do too badly in this game, all things considered. I was, at the end of the day, using a soft list in a scenario format that I was horribly unfamiliar and inexperienced with, and yet I still managed to deal a bloody nose to the Death Guard. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change the fact that I still played a very lopsided game where I pretty much screwed myself over in deployment.
-I brought my list expecting to deal with Poxwalker hordes (hence the Wych blob). In retrospect, I shoulder really have brought more Kabalites/firepower, as this would have been a huge help in dealing with those damnable Plagueburst Crawlers, and large monsters, and vehicles, etc.
-I was surprised at how aggressive he was in moving forward with his Plagueburst Crawlers. I was expecting him to go for lascannon equivalents, not plaguespitters. Again, I really should have used my mobility to keep my distance.
-Nurglings are freaking tough! My Wyches just couldn’t kill the buggers off when it mattered.

MISTAKES:
-My earlier deployment error was extremely costly, and meant that I lost my Reavers far too early. It also meant that my warlord was on the run for most of the game from the majority of the enemy army (in retrospect I wonder if I wound have been better served by running her out aggressively as a distraction rather than trying to preserve her, but I didn’t rate her chances against Mortarion.) Hugging cover is the number one deployment rule for Dark Eldar, and I’m stunned that I neglected it in this instance.
-As mentioned above, I was an idiot and didn’t take full advantage of my mobility like I should have. Instead, I let the majority of my force get boxed into a corner for two full turns while the enemy army spread out and took those vital objectives. This was massively important, because in ITC missions you score a point for each turn that you have an objective under your control.
-I initially forgot about the Flayed Skull ability to reroll 1s with my splinter rifles/cannons. This was pivotal, as I kept having my vehicles (or my Venoms, at least) hug my Archon’s reroll bubble instead instead of letting them spread out.

WHAT WENT WELL, AT LEAST:
-My firepower was reliable and effective throughout the entire game, with my multiple blasters punching holes in his tanks and my massed splinter fire putting serious hurt on his Daemon Prince and Morty. My Venoms, Kabalites and Ravagers were all just plain fantastic.
-My number 2 Archon did better than my Djinn Blade-wielding warlord, killing off the Daemon Prince and even managing to tank wounds for a round from Mortarion
-My Mandrakes, even though they failed their charge when they arrived, were excellent at clearing away my opponent’s backfield, killing off one unit of Nurglings with baleblasts and stabbing down the Nurgle Herald

UNITS THAT DID NOT DO WELL:
-The Wych horde came down on turn 2….and failed their charge on the Nurglings guarding an objective, as did the Mandrakes. When they did make it into a unit of Nurglings on turn 3, they had taken some losses, and only killed 2 bases and nearly killed a 3rd. Not nearly good enough. I think the whole deepstriking Wych blob experiment has failed.
-My Traitor’s Embrace Succubus was terrible. She charged Mortarion, died horribly…and then rolled a 1 for her explosion damage. I used a command point reroll, got a 2…and then Mortarion saved one of the wounds anyway on Disgustingly Resilient. I had spent two whole command points and a character just to do 1 wound to Mortarion. :bleep:
-As mentioned above, I was an unpracticed, casual player against a guy practicing for ITC. The outcome felt like it was inevitable based ont that factor alone.

RULES LESSONS:
-Up until now, i had always thought that overwatch worked like 7th ed, where you can have a unit charge in, eat up overwatch, and free another unit to charge in without penalty. Instead, as I learned, an enemy unit can overwatch as many times as it likes as long as it’s not locked in combat. This became apparent when I charged the last two Reavers into one of his Plagueburst Crawlers, hoping to eat overwatch so some nearby Wyches could lock it in combat and deny its shooting for a bit. Nope, the Reavers died, and the Wyches soon followed suit.
-When rerolling charges, you must in fact reroll both dice: you cannot choose just to reroll one, unless you are using a command point
-The Helm of Spite must actually be on the table (ie outside of a vehicle) in order to take effect.

MOVING FORWARD:
I’m thinking that for competitive games (ie games where my opponent brings several psykers, Plagueburst Crawlers and Daemon Princes against me), a third Ravager is definitely in order- and potentially, even taking them in a Black Heart Spearhead detachment so that I can make use of Labyrinthine Cunning, Writ of the Dark Muse and Agents of Vect (though I wonder if taking that would immediately turn me into “that guy”). Otherwise, I’m discovering that Reavers are very difficult to use effectively, as despite their high toughness and multiple wounds, they are not hard to kill at all. They really need to hug LOS blocking cover and/or get in the enemy’s faces on turn 1 to be effective– and to do that, ideally, they need to be run with Red Grief, not Cursed Blade.

Speaking of which, my dalliance into the Cult of the Cursed Blade was interesting, and might bear repeating…but not with the giant Wych blob. The one big problem with the Wych blob is that a simple, failed charge roll left them sitting out in the open– which would have been infinitely worse against a shootier opponent like Imperial Guard or T’au. Maybe I will experiment with this unit again at some point, but in the meantime, I will stick to keeping my Wyches in Raiders (which means sticking to Cult of the Red Grief, to make best use of said Raiders. I am starting to see why Red Grief is seen as the “go-to” Wych Cult for a lot of players)

Overall, at the end of the day, I was an unpracticed Drukhari player up against a much more experienced player prepar ing for a major tournament. Based on that factor alone, this was always going to be an uphill battle for me, so I take some solace from that.

Updates: revising a paint scheme, a dark lady, and evil Wraithguard

It’s been a while since I last shared any of my painting/converting updates– as usual, my very busy weekly life has kept me…well, busy. That being said, what progress that I have made has been focused on my Drukhari, particularly in updating my old colour scheme.

Kabalites:

When I first painted up my Kabal of the Revenant Shroud , I wanted something other than the green/turquoise schemes I kept seeing on every other Dark Eldar army out there. I wanted a theme that reflected the Kabal name– something suitably dark and menacing– but not overly so. In the end, I went with a mid-grey colour scheme with ice-blue highlights, going for a look that, to me at least, trod the line between malevolence and barebones functionality– a delinieation that, to me, seemed appropriate for a Kabal that had effectively been living in exile.

Some (admittedly) blurry pics of my old colour scheme can be found here:

And some of my allied Wych Cult:


As you can see, my old colour scheme really was nothing to write home about. I quickly discovered how difficult it was to get grey shaded and hightlighted just right, and ended up with an army that, regrettably, looked like it had just come off of the sprue. To make things worse, back then my carrying case wasn’t the greatest, and so gradual wear and tear resulted in a lot of damage to my poor models.

It was because of this that, when the new Codex: Drukhari dropped, I vowed that I would make my army playable again. Up until then, I had been using the old, horribly outdated Dark Eldar Warriors, and so made a point of buying two large squads of Kabalite Warriors (half of which came pre-primed and assembled from a friend). I was dissatisfied with how my old colour scheme had turned out, and wanted to use these Kabalites as a testbed for a new possible scheme (and/or to see if I could improve the old one)
At first, I tried experimenting with (from left to right), a base of Dark Reaper followed by a lighter grey colour; an attempt at painting ivory (which turned out horribly) and an attempt at doing Incubi Darkness followed by Kabalite Green.

The grey one, I edged with Sotek Green just to see how well the two would work together. I had it in my mind that I wanted to go for a scheme that seemed ancient, or even “spectral,” and I was inspired in no small part by the way the upcoming Nighthaunt minis have been painted for Age of Sigmar.
At some point in this whole process, I decided to base an entire squad in Dark Reaper, and see where I went from there. I think I was trying to do something similar to, or improve upon, my old colour scheme.

More recently, at a paint night at a friend’s house, layered one of these Dark Reaper’d models with Vallejo Sombre Grey (which I think is an equivalent to Russ Grey) and then went over it with a blue wash. The end result looks like this:


I have to say, I actually really like this colour– it evokes shadow and has an almost spectral look to it, while at the same time still is “colourful.”

Later on, I added purple to the plumage of this guy’s helm, just to add in some extra complementary colour. Note that I still need to do the flayed skin tabards of the Kabalites as well.

Here is an entire squad in progress. Later on I intend to add ice-blue highlights to the edge of their armour, just to get a little bit more colour done on them. That, of course, will be a time-consuming effort, and after these six, I have thirty-odd more to go.

The Archon

A while back, I acquired a new Archon model from Raging Heroes, although I had been avoiding painting her since. Given that I was uncertain of how I was going to be repainting my Drukhari, I wanted to be sure that I had a colour scheme in mind before I painted her. Even then, I wanted to be sure that she stood out– after all, she was going to be representing the big bad of my army, and I wanted her colour scheme to be distinctive in some way.

Assembling her wasn’t too much of a hassle…except, however, that the tip of her little arm-blade snapped off when I first tried to transport her. Sadly, despite my best efforts, the tip keeps breaking off every time I try gluing it back on. I fear the damage may be permanent. If that’s the case…well, then I’m going to have to get used to my Archon having a rather stubby arm-weapon thing.

At first, I debated painting the Archon silver or ivory to make her stand out from my grey Kabalites. However, I decided against it: I doubted I could make the details of the model (ie her eerily funerary-looking mask, her segmented armour, etc) stand out that well in silver…and I just find it really difficult to paint ivory. So instead I went for a lighter version of the Kabalite colour scheme, going for a straight base coat of Sombre Grey followed by a blue wash. Here is that initial attempt, shown next to a Kabalite for contrast.

From there, so far, I have darkened the armour slightly with more blue, while using Russ Grey to highlight the model. I’ve also painted her gun, the chains on the model and the skulls dangling from said chains, and most importantly, painted her cloak a regal purple, working up from several successive shades. The end result so far looks like this:

I have to say, I am loving how she looks so far. The grey/blue is turning out just right, and more importantly, is working very well with the purple. I still have to touch up her armour a little, and maybe add some ice-blue highlights to tie her further to the rest of the army. Her base came from a third party supplier (sadly I can’t remember which), and is pretty much supposed to look like an Eldar Craftworld base. I’m debating painting it a dull grey or a sharp bone colour, though a friend has also suggested scratching up the surface a little to make it look like a recent battle-site. Overall, though, I love this model: she has an easy, arrogant grace to her that makes me imagine her sauntering across a battlefield, unconcerned about enemy firepower and commanding the respect and fear of her followers.

 

Grotesques:

Ages ago, I hit upon the idea that my Kabal’s allied Haemonculus, instead of creating Grotesques normally (which is a relative term, depending on how “normal” you consider Groteques to be), and instead harvests and corrupts Wraithguard into horrendously altered wraithbone killing machines. It made sense to me, modelling-wise– Grotesques are roughly on par size-wise with the “standard” Grotesque models, as well as with Crypt Horrors, which I have seen used as the basis for so many Grotesque conversions. The Wraithguard, unlike the hunched, bestial Crypt Horrors, though, have a rigid, fluid look to them that, normally, makes them look like they are striding calmly and silently forward. It would be an image I would be all to happy to ruin with a whole lot of awkard poses and spiky stuff.

For a background reason, I figured that my Haemonculus was less concerned about the torments that could be inflicted on the flesh, and was more interested on experimenting with the immortal, undying soul. Hence, Wraithguard, and more importantly, the spirit stones within– and it was then that I realized that I had hit upon something far more horrifying than Grotesques, for the souls trapped inside the Wraithguard would no doubt be tormented to the point of insanity.

I started off with two Wraithguard, adjusting their poses slightly and replacing some of their arms with those from a Talos sprue (plus a bladevane from a Venom). In many cases, a lot of sawing and pinning had to be done to keep the new arms/hands/implements in place.

From there, I did two more– one, with leftover arms from a sprue of Kromlech mek-arms that I had lying around from when I’d converted my Arco-Flagellants, and the other, with its hands replaced by the blades of Wraithblades swords to create a “mantis”-type construct.

I plan to create possibly up to 10 of these guys to form a terrifying giant unit of death, possibly later with some Taloi backing them up (what Hero calls “the Miserable Meat Mountain,” only in this case with 99% less meat). I don’t know how I’m going to paint them, at the moment, but I may use an exacto knife to carve furrows and cracks into their surfaces to make the Wraithbone look like its fraying under the pressure of its unholy alteration.

At this point, though, I’m just scratching the surface of what I need to get done with my Drukhari. I still need to do my Reavers, half of my Mandrakes, and my Wracks, not to mention painting up my Succubus as well (and possibly redoing the colours of my Wyches). And that’s not even mentioning the possibility of redoing my vehicles, or getting a third Ravager, more Wracks, and assembling my Scourges and Taloi in the future…

Sigh. Whoever said building an army was a leisure activity had no idea what they were talking about…

Rifts: Fallout rules

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(image above by Bethesda Softworks)

 

So, I will make no secret of the fact that I am a rabid Fallout fan. I absolutely love the setting, with its madcap humour, its retro-60’s aesthetic juxtaposed with a horrible post-apocalyptic hellscape, and with its emphasis on narrative storytelling and open-world freedom.  Fallouts 3, and New Vegas remain some of my favourite RPGs ever, and it has always bothered me that there isn’t a dedicated, pen and paper Fallout RPG system– that is, except for an old GURPS module that is now out of print. Despite the fact that Fallout: Wasteland Warfare is in the works as a minis game, and despite Fantasy Flight’s recent Fallout board game, there seems to be no news of a Fallout RPG system in the works, much to my sadness.

A little more than a year ago, I undertook what was probably one of the most ambitious RPG undertakings I had ever done: I tried to run a Rifts campaign set in the Fallout universe. I went with Rifts, firstly, because it was a system that a lot of people in my usual RPG group were quite familiar with, and secondly, because Rifts and Fallout share many similarities: both are set in a post-apocalyptic world, full of monsters and horrors, where new nations have been carved out of the bones of the old. Power armour, giant robots, mutants, and even aliens are replete in both universes, although Rifts goes slightly heavier into things like dimension-hopping, aliens, and the aforementioned giant robots (Fallout, sadly, can only boast Liberty Prime in the giant robo department). Because of these similarities, Rifts seemed like a natural fit…although it would need some tweaking.

My campaign itself was set in post-apocalyptic Canada, and was going to span a long journey from the Rouge Valley east of Toronto, to the crumbling ruins of Toronto itself and several of its landmarks (including the Toronto Islands, historic Fort York, and a certain, extremely tall tower). Sadly, the campaign quickly fell apart due to a variety of factors…though that is a sad story for another time, though suffice to say it was a very stressful period of my life. What I do want to share today, however, is the one thing I am still proud of from that campaign: the house rules I had set up. I wanted the campaign to be more than just Rifts rules with a Fallout skin on top: I wanted the rules to reflect the equipment, creatures, and even unique gameplay mechanics of the world without going too much overboard.

In the end, I wound up adding some skills, removing some others, removing more than a few classes that just didn’t fit into the Fallout universe (like psychics, for example), and, most importantly of all, creating new rules for things like perks, radiation, and chems. Hopefully, if anyone else out there plays Rifts and wants to have their try at a Fallout campaign, these rules will come in handy– though nothing is stopping you from making any amendments of your own, especially if you are using Rifts or a d100 percentile system similar to rifts.

Before all else, though, I want to thank my player party at the time, and particularly my friend Andy, for helping me develop these rules, especially since my knowledge of Rifts was quite poor at the time.

NOTE: these rules are not in any way official, nor in any way endorsed by Bethesda Softworks or Palladium Books. Furthermore, they have been created purely on a non-profit basis.

 

SKILLS

The following skills are added:
Lore: Mutants (Technical)- 30% +5
-Grants general knowledge of Mutants, most notably Ghouls and Super-Mutants (though rarer Mutant breeds, like Trogs and Swampfolk, can also apply)
Lore: Other (Technical)- 30% + 5
-Allows the character general knowledge of a topic not covered by other lores (ie Wasteland Factions, Great Restaurants of the Wasteland, Post-Apocalyptic Sports Teams, etc). Must discuss and gain approval of GM first.
Lore: Vaults (Technical)- 35% +3
-Grants knowledge of Vaults, how they work, existing Vaults, etc
Lore: Wasteland (America)- 30%+5
-Grants knowledge of the regions, landmarks, people and general environment of the former United States. (Sub-skill Lores: Capital Wasteland, Commonwealth, New California Republic, the Pitt, Erie Stretch, Mojave, West Virginia)
Lore: Wasteland (Canada)- 30%+5
-Grants knowledge of the regions, landmarks, people and general environment of Canada (notable sub-skill lores: Greater Ronto Area, Upper Canada, Prairies, Red River, Mount Royal, New Vinland, Ojibwe Confederacy, Bysea, Quebec, the Yukon)
Radiation Treatment (Medical)- 40% +5- increases rate at which lose rads; has knowledge of how to heal rad poisoning, and alleviate radiation-related effects. Also grants bonuses in use of Rad-Away and Rad-X.

The following skills are altered from their original wording:
-History: Pre-Rifts (Technical) is now called History: Pre-War
-Lore: Demons and Monsters is now Lore: Wasteland Monsters
-Lore: Juicers is now Lore: Raiders
-Xenology (Science) is now called Mutant Biology, and applies to Super Mutants, Ghouls and other Mutants as opposed to aliens and D-Bees

The following skills are not applicable:
-Flight System Combat (Juicer)
-Horsemanship: Cyber-Knight (Horsemanship)
-Jump Bike Combat (Pilot)
-Lore: Faeries and Creatures of Magic (Technical)
-Lore: Magic (Technical)
-Lore: Psychics and Psionics (Technical)
-Miitary: Jet Fighters (unless you can make a good case to the GM)
-Military: Submersibles (as above)
-Robot Combat: Basic (Pilot)
-Robot Combat: Elite (Pilot)

 

NEW RACES:

GHOULS

Modifiers: +1D6 PE, -1D6 PB
Radiation Survivors: Ghouls are immune to the harmful effects of radiation. In addition, Ghoul characters automatically start with the Ghoulish perk for free
Past Expiry Date: Ghoul characters do not automatically trigger aggression from Feral Ghouls
Dead Metabolism: The effectiveness of chems on Ghoul characters is halved

OPTION: ANCIENT GHOUL
Used to represent a Ghoul who has been around since before the War.
Modifiers: -2D6 PB
Old Enough To Know Better: Ancient Ghouls start with +2 secondary skills of their choice, at +3% per level

 

SUPER MUTANTS

Modifiers: +2d6 PS, +1D6 PE, 1d6 less IQ, 1D6 less PB
Natural Survivors: Super Mutants are immune the harmful effects of radiation
Fresh Meat!: Super Mutant characters automatically start with the Cannibal perk for free
Hulking Brutes: Super Mutants cannot use “human-sized” armour (including power armour), and most single-handed weapons, such as pistols or knives. Human-sized clothing can only be used at the discretion of the GM.
Scourge of Humanity: Super Mutant characters may trigger aggression from Humans; they do not, however, automatically trigger aggression from other Super Mutants

OPTION: SUPER MUTANT OUTSIDER
Used to represent a Super Mutant who, for whatever reason, has retained base human intellect.
My Mind Remains: Super Mutant Outsiders do not have a negative modifier to IQ.
User of Big Words: Super Mutant Outsiders suffer a -10% penalty to communicate with other Super Mutants, due to “talking like a Human.” This may trigger aggression from other Super Mutants.

 

PERKS
Each character can take one starting perk. Furthermore, all characters may take one additional perk each time they level up. Note that Perks marked with a (*) can be taken more than once, and their numerical effects are considered to be cumulative.

Action Boy/Girl*– The character gets an extra action per melee round
Animal Friend*– The character gains +5% to all Animal Husbandry rolls. This can be used against Wasteland Monsters like Deathclaws
Barbarian*- The character gets +1 to hit with melee weapons, and may take WP Exotic as a free Secondary Skill
Black Widow/Ladykiller*- The character gets +1 damage against characters of the opposite sex, as well as a +10% bonus to charm or seduce characters of the opposite sex. This only works against  Humans and Ghouls– Super Mutants do not have any fixed gender.
Big Guns*- The character gets +1 to hit with heavy weapons, and +10% to any rolls to repair or maintain weapons
Blitz- The character moves twice as fast when charging into melee combat, at no cost to their actions
Bloody Mess*- The character gets a +1 bonus to all damage rolls. Furthermore, any enemy killed has a chance to explode into gory bits, regardless of how they were killed or what part of them was hit. Note that enemies that are killed in this way are less likely to carry valuable loot that can be recovered.
Cannibal- The character can metabolize raw meat. Furthermore, the character regains +d6 HP from eating meat killed in the last 10 minutes, including human, Ghoul and Super-Mutant meat.
Catfooted- The character has +1 PP,  and+5% to Acrobatics
Chem Fiend- The duration of any chems taken by the character is doubled. The chances of becoming addicted, however, are also doubled.
Chem Resistant- The character does not take cumulative negative modifiers when testing for addiction.
Cherchez la Femme/Confirmed Bachelor*- The character has+1 damage against characters of the same sex, and has a +10% bonus to charm or seduce characters of the same sex. This only works against Humans and Ghouls– Super Mutants do not have a fixed gender.
Comprehension- The difficult for reading any book, text or document is lowered by -25%, regardless of the text’s language or legibility.
Computer Whiz- The character be locked out of a system after failing to hack it. Furthermore, they gain a +10% bonus to all Computer Operation, Computer Programming and Computer Hacking rolls
Contortionist*- The character has +5% to Escape Artist
Critical Banker- If the character rolls a Critical Success, they may “store” the critical and treat it as a normal success. Make a note of the crit; the player can use it at any time during the session, either to automatically make their roll a critical success, or to negate a botch. The player may not store more than one crit per session, and any crits that are unused by the end of the session “expire” and cannot be used again.
Educated- The character can take two Lore skills as free secondary skills at +3% per level
Egghead- The character gains +5% to four Lore and/or Science-related skills
Explorer- The character can always tell North, even when the sun isn’t visible, and also has +8% to Land Navigation
Fearless*- The character has+3 to any save vs Horror factor, and a+10% to resist intimidation.
Finesse*- The character’s Critical Success threshold is reduced by 1%
Four Leaf Clover- The player can reroll one or all dice in a roll once per session
Ghoulish- The character regains +D6 HP per 2 melee rounds when exposed to radiation. This cannot be used if the character already has the Rad Resistance perk.
Grim Reaper’s Sprint- After scoring a critical success or killing an opponent in combat, the character gains a +3 bonus to all damage rolls in the current melee round (or subsequent melee round, if the character scores this success at the end of their round)
Gun Nut*- The character has a +5% chance to repair guns, and a +1 chance to hit with pistols and rifles
Gunslinger*- The character gains +2 to initiative when drawing a pistol or pistols, or participating in a gun duel; furthermore they gain the Quickdraw ability
Harmless- The character has +10% to Prowl, +5% to camouflage, and a +5% streetwise bonus to themselves out of bad situations
Insanely Gifted- The player may add +1d6 to one attribute of choice to their character. However, the character must also have a form of insanity—either determined randomly on the table (see Rifts core), or upon consultation with the GM.
Inspirational- The character can make an inspirational speech as an action, at +10% if done through Perform, directed against specific party members; affected party members gain a +5% bonus to their next action, or +1 to hit on their next attack if they are in combat.
Iron Fist*- The character has +1 to hit with unarmed attacks; furthermore, the character treats their hand to hand skill level as being one higher than it currently is.
Junkyard Genius*- Once per game, the character has a single guaranteed success on Jury Rig.
Lightfooted- The character has a 25% chance to avoid triggering traps, and -10% to Prowl Penalties
Little Leaguer*- The character has +1 to hit with grenades or thrown weapons
Living Anatomy- The character has a +1 damage bonus against Humans, Ghouls or Super-Mutants for every one of the following skills the character has above 50%: Forensics, Pathology, Medical Science, Biology, or Paramedic. Veterinary Science gives a similar bonus vs animals. Mutant Biology grants a similar bonus against Super Mutants and Ghouls only.
Miracle Worker- The character may reroll 1 attempt to fix a broken machine per session.
Munitions Conversion- This allows the character to attempt to convert one size of regular ammunition to another, with a +10% bonus if done through the Field Armourer, Demolitions and/or Recognize Weapon Quality skills. Failure results in the character having 50% fewer munitions as the batch he/she was working on gets ruined.
Never Say Die*- Once per game, the character can ignore up to 10 HP in damage in a single melee round.
Ninja- The character gains the Automatic Dodge ability. If the character already has Automatic Dodge, then he or she adds a further +5% to all Acrobatics-based abilities. Must still spend an action to get all of the bonuses for auto-dodge.
Nosy Neighbour- The character has +1 to all perception rolls, +5% to Find Contraband, and +5% to Detect Ambush
Nuka Chemist*- The character knows the recipe for Nuka Cola. On the second tier of this perk, the character gains +5% to brew Nuka Cola, and may attempt to brew special flavours based on ingredients (results may vary). Further tiers of this perk do no grant further special abilities other than the increased percentile bonus.
Nuka Symbiosis- The character regains twice as much HP from drinking Nuka Cola. However, the character also counts as being addicted to Nuka Cola, and loses the effects of the perk if they lose the addiction.
Party Animal- The character ignores the negative effects of alcohol. However, they must still test for addiction.
Power Armour Training- The character automatically has the Robots & Power Armour Combat: Basic skill. If the character already has this skill, then they automatically gain the Elite level of the skill.
Rad Resistance- The character takes 50% less rads from all sources (rounding up). This cannot be used if the character already has the Ghoulish perk.
Rifleman*-  The character has +1 to hit with rifles, with a -2 reduction to range penalties
Robotics Expert*- The character has a +10% chance to modify, hack, repair or assess or hit robots, as well as a+1 to damage Robots. On a second level of this perk, the character also gains a +5% bonus to persuade or Interrogate robots.
Rooted- The character does not suffer negatives from burst fire if they have not moved that melee round.
Scavenger- On a successful salvage roll, the character finds an extra 2d6 rounds of ammunition (of type determined by GM)
Scenery Chewer*- The character has +10% to public speaking and performance.
Science!*- The character gains +5% to all Jury Rig attempts, and adds a 10% bonus to two Science-related skills (confirm with GM)
Scoundrel- The character gains a +10% bonus to cheat in any roll on the Gambling (Dirty Tricks) skill, and a +5% bonus to Palming and Concealment.
Silver-Tongued Devil- The character has a flat +30% to gain someone’s trust or persuade them of something, or a +5% bonus on Barter, Seduction or Interrogation.
Solar Powered*- The character gains+10 max HP in sunlight. This is reduced back down to the character’s normal level whenever not in sunlight– any damage that takes them beyond their starting health counts as excessive damage for the purposes of determining injury, unconsciousness, death, etc.
Shotgun Surgeon- The character can use everyday or modified materials or items as medical equipment if they pass a successful Field Surgery or Salvage roll
Terrifying Presence*- The character has +10% to all intimidate rolls. Also, some opponents must test vs Intimidation to attack the character
Thief*- The character gains +10% to two Skills from the Espionage or Rogue skill set
Work, Damn You!- The character makes an attack roll against a piece of equipment or machinery. The item proceeds to work as intended for 1 melee round, before subsequently breaking.

GHOUL PERKS:

Charred- The Ghoul only takes half damage from flame-type weapons, or fire of any kind.
Feral Whisperer- The Ghoul can use Animal Husbandry on Feral Ghouls
Gangrenous- The Ghoul can choose to be infected with a disease. Make a note of what kind of disease; the Ghoul will not suffer any of the disease’s effects, but can transmit those effects to another character by touch. The Ghoul also suffers a further-1d6 PB and PE as the disease affects their rotten condition even further. Any successful rolls to treat the Ghoul’s disease, however, will cause the perk to cease to function, until/unless the Ghoul is infected with another disease. Note that Ghouls CANNOT be infected with, nor carry, the FEV.
Germ Proof- The Ghoul has a +3 to save vs toxins, disease and poison.
Glowing One- The Ghoul emits radiation in a four foot radius. Furthermore, they can heal D6+1 HP per melee round when near a source of radiation, and any Ghouls (of any kind) within a four foot radius will be similarly healed. The Ghouls also suffers from -5% to Prowl, and glows in the dark.
Reaver- The Ghoul gains a natural armour rating of 10. The Ghoul also suffers -1d6 PB and MA. To gain the Reaver perk, the Ghoul must have one pre-existing Ghoul Perk.
When I Was Your Age (Ancient Ghouls only)- The Ghoul can remember Pre-War events with perfect clarity, and gains a +10% to all rolls on Lore: Pre-War

SUPER MUTANT PERKS:

Abomination Handler- The Super-Mutant can use Animal Husbandry on FEV-mutated creatures, such as Centaurs and Mutant Hounds.
Berserk Rage- After taking any kind of damage in combat, the Super Mutant adds +1 to hit and +2 to all damage rolls for the rest of the battle. The Mutant must make Mental Endurance saves not to attack allies.
Metal Man Masher*- The Super-Mutant gains +1 to damage against Robots and against characters in power armour
Mutant Master- The Super-Mutant gains a +5% bonus to gain influence over or command other Super Mutants; this becomes a +10% if done through Public Speaking or Performance, or if the Mutant’s PS is 16 or higher.
Sanity is for the Weak- The Super-Mutant is completely immune to Horror effects and mind control; must take a form of insanity, either by conferring with the GM or rolling on the table (see Rifts core)

 

 

CLASSES- STARTING AMENDMENTS:

BODY FIXER
Gains Radiation Treatment as an OCC Skill
Omit the following: robot micro-surgeon system, hand held computer, commercial vehicle, laser scalpel, blood pressure machine, vibro-knife, robot medical kit
Medical Kit- Now contains the following: stimpacks, rad-away, rad-x, Med-x, Addictol,

OPERATOR
Omit the following: two commercial vehicles, portable translator

ROGUE SCHOLAR
Omit: Commercial vehicle, CD player, digital camera, portable language translator
Add: Holotape player + headphones

In addition, the following OCCs are NOT allowed:
-Cyber-Doc
-Cyber-Knight
-Glitter Boy
-Dragon
-Robot Pilot
-Any Magic-User or Coalition characters

 

STARTING EQUIPMENT:
All classes may take a Geiger counter as part of their starting equipment. Geiger counters detect radioactive materials within a 12 ft radius, and determine level of radioactivity

UNIQUE EQUIPMENT

PIP-BOY 3000- contains in-built personal computer with map, inventory, database, and med and bio-scanner; can be plugged into specific Vault-tec outlets
-VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System)- can use VATS on a single enemy to add +1 to hit to any aimed attack against them.

HACKING MECHANICS:
Each time a player fails a hacking roll, the difficulty is increased by 10%.
-Assuming your first hack is at -0%
-A failed attempt gives a -10% to the next roll, cumulative to future attempts
-A player with a 40% chance of success, who has failed one hacking attempt would need to roll a 30% or less to succeed. A second failed attempt would result in a -20%, or a roll of 20% or less.
-A player who reduces their chances to pass a hacking skill check to 0% or less locks that terminal. (This includes other players)

 

RADIATION
Radiation works as follows:
Every time a person is near a source of radiation, they take a number of rads per melee round. The longer they stay near the radiation source, the more rads they take. Some sources give off more radiation than others, or give increasing amounts of radiation the closer the character is to it.
Classifications of radiation sources are as follows:
-Minor- 5 rads/second
-Medium- 10 rads/second
-Dangerous- 15 rads/second
-Severe- 20 rads/second
-Catastrophic- 25+ rads/second

As characters take more and more rads, the following effects will apply:
-At 200 rads, -2 to all stats, -1 to combat rolls
-At 400 rads, -4 to all stats, -2 to combat rolls
-At rads, -6 to all stats, -3 to combat rolls
-At 800 rads, -8 to all stats, -4 to combat rolls

1000 rads is considered to be a lethal amount of radiation. Once a character reaches 1000 rads, they will immediately die.
Radiation can be reduced by taking Rad-X or Rad-Away, or, if one is available, going into a decontamination chamber. Some doctors in the wasteland have developed herbal or home-made counters to radiation as well.

 

 

CHEMS
Chems have the following effects:

Addictol- immediately removes the effects of all addictions within 15 minutes. During that time, the character suffers –d6 HP and feels sick to their stomach, though they feel fresh as a daisy when it’s all over.
Buffout- +5 PS for d6x10 minutes, takes 1 melee round to kick in as the character’s muscles swell to a much greater degree. During this time, the character may feel elevated levels of energy and aggression.
Jet- gains an extra action for d6 melee rounds, activates immediately. To the character, the world will appear to “slow down” as their heart rate and energy levels increase dramatically
-Ultra Jet- gains an extra action for 3d6 melee rounds, although once it runs out, the character will immediately suffer -5 Speed and -2 PE as they “crash” for d4 rounds.
Med-X- +2 save vs pain, +d4x10 SDC for d6x10 minutes, takes 1 melee round to kick in.
Mentats- +5 to IQ for 10 minutes, as the character is briefly endowed with genius-level intellect (and the smug attitude to match). Takes 1 melee round to kick in.
Psycho- +1 to hit with all attacks, and +2 to all damage rolls, for d6 melee rounds, activates immediately. During this time, the character will have heightened bloodlust and an overwhelming urge to commit acts of violence. Must make Mental Endurance saves to not commit violent actions against people they don’t want to hurt. Nonlethal DC 12
Rad-X- negate 5 rads per second (to a minimum of 1) for ten minutes. Boosted to 8 rads per second when used with the Radiation Treatment skill.
RadAway- eliminates 2d6 rads. Boosted to 3d6 rads when used by someone with the Radiation Treatment skill.
-Ultra-RadAway- eliminates 6d6 rads. Boosted to 7d6 when used by someone with the Radiation Treatment skill.
Stimpak- +2d6 HP. Anyone with the First Aid or Medical Science skills boosts this by 1d6
-Super-Stimpak- +6d6 HP. Anyone with the First Aid or Medical Science skills boosts this by 1d6

Board Game Night: Expeditions for Hyperthetical Dragonballs

 

So, a week ago my girlfriend Nicole and I went to one of our usual board game hubs, Snakes and Lattes, which is near Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto (definitely worth a visit if any of you readers happen to visit our fair city). It was a fairly quiet night for a weekday, so we managed to find a table rather easily. We were in the mood that night to try something new, but since the cafe’s recent additions didn’t look particularly appetizing, we instead found ourselves scrounging around the older shelves to find something we had overlooked in past board game nights.

The first game we tried for the night was The Lost Expedition.

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The game revolved around a team of adventurers in what appears to be the 1920s journeying into the Amazon rainforest in search of the lost city of El Dorado, all the while having to fend off the local wildlife, disease, starvation, getting lost, and unfriendly natives. It was a simple-seeming affair, with the two of us taking turns controlling a party of three randomly drawn adventurers, and a “path” deck that we created from both of our hands. There were also a large number of resource tiles, representing food, sleep, bullets, health, navigation, and survivalism.

Our brave expedition consisted of three brave adventurers: Ynes, Candido, and Clearly-Not-Teddy-Roosevelt.

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Candido either doesn’t think his fancy white outfit is going to get stained, or thinks there will be dry cleaning in the rainforest…

The game itself was split into three parts, each split between a “day” and a “night” cycle, during which both of which we would have to cross down the path of cards we had created. Traversing down this path turned out to not be an easy prospect, as, while some of them would grant us resource counters, others still would require certain resources for us to pass onwards. If we were didn’t have any of the corresponding resource counters, then we would have to instead take them directly off of any explorers with the corresponding icon in the form of health (each explorer had 5 health counters). And thus, the journey could slowly but surely take a toll on our brave explorers if we weren’t careful. (Spoiler: we weren’t).

We managed to get through the first day without too much difficult, but had to expend a lot of resources on the second. By the time we got to the third, almost all of our explorers were dangerously low on health.

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I always knew never to trust monkeys…

Our first casualty, sadly, came when we came upon an “Eels” card. We were low on resources at this point and could not spend the requisite amount to get past this card– this meant that someone in our party had to snuff it. Alas, poor Teddy was promtply eaten by the eels. Ironically, the party then got food from the encounter, eating the eels that had just eaten poor Teddy. So…our adventurers had just, indirectly, eaten Theodore Roosevelt.

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RIP Teddy. At least the eels were delicious.

Even then, the third day proved more and more perilous. Candido was the next to die after a fateful encounter with a jaguar. We almost didn’t think we would win this game…but at the end, Ines, battered and only on a single point of health remaining, stumbled off the path into El Dorado.

Overall, my girlfriend and I quite enjoyed this game. It was difficult enough to be challenging without being impossible –it forced us to be careful with the use of our resources, and had us fighting a constant battle against attrition. You actually are forced to think ahead in terms of what cards you set down for the path, and about gaining the right kinds of resources, otherwise you find your characters getting dangerously low on health. Beyond that, I liked simplistic art style of the game, which reminded me a lot of comic books from the 1950s and 60s. Ultimately, I would definitely give this game a chance if you happen to see it.

Recommended? Yes.

For the next game, we decided on something a little more off the wall, and picked up Dragonball Z: Perfect Cell.

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Goku, hoping Cell will stand still for two episodes while he charges up his Kamehameha.

Like a lot of people in my generation, I got sucked into the hype of Dragonball Z when I was a kid, what with its almost ludicrous hypermasculinity, its flashy, destructive fight scenes, and its episode-long charge-up times. As such, when we picked this game, I was expecting something that would hopefully live up to the destructive, and sometimes silly, fun of Dragonball Z.

It…well…sort of did, and sort of didn’t.

The game revolves around you and your fellow players battling Cell. The object of the game is to choose a character for each player, each of whom has their own abilities. Players gain randomly-rolled resources each turn, which they can use to buy special attacks, aid other players, use regular or special attacks, to heal damage or to block or disable Cell’s persistent attacks. In true DBZ fashion, you can also acquire the Dragon Balls to resurrect any players who get killed by Cell in the process. Each round, meanwhile, Cell will acquire two abilities, which will do damage or negate certain abilities of your own: unless you roll the right abilities/resources cancel out these effects, Cell’s attacks/abilities will simply persist and accumulate each turn, making winning the game much more difficult.

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Cell, daring you to fill his hit boxes.

Speaking of winning: to win, you need to kill Cell by filling all of his 75 or 85 damage boxes, which isn’t too hard, given that some of the special attacks you can acquire can do ridiculous amounts of damage. This is complicated though, by the fact that some of Cell’s cards will heal damage, and, if not negated by the players, will heal persistently throughout the game. Also, you lose if (a) Cell kills all of the players, or (b) Cell ends up using all of his attack cards.

In the game itself, I wound up with Goku (who gets to give some of his resources to fellow players as a free action), and my girlfriend got Vegeta, who starts with the Kamehameha special attack (which is strange, as I always thought the Kamehameha was specifically Goku’s thing). Nicole also had fun imitating him throughout the game. (“That’s a good plan, Kakorrot, but I am the Prince of Saiyans, so screw your plan, I want to punch him!”) The game itself, however, became very predictable, as we quickly settled into a routine of Goku blocking Cell’s abilities and diverting resources to Vegeta, who in turn collected as many special attacks as possible and blasted the ever living hell out of Cell. We still came very close to being decked out, as Cell had only one or two cards left in his deck in the end, but it didn’t matter, as Vegeta still ultimately obliterated Cell, laughing arrogantly all the while.

The problem I have with this game is it did not give me the same feeling of tension as Lost Expedition did. Every round, Nicole and I were able to easily repel Cell’s abilities and inflict increasing amounts of damage upon him, and never once did we feel challenged or even threatened by him. The game manual did post recommendations for ways to make the game more challenging, which is something I’ve seen in several other board games that I’ve encountered. However, whenever I see challenging game modes like this, I always seen them as an interesting, alternative way to play the game that already has a solid “main” play style. In Perfect Cell’s case, these expanded difficulty options felt more like an apology, as though the game makers were somehow aware of how un-challenging our experience with the main game was.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I do not recommend Perfect Cell. It may serve as a fun experience if you and your fellow players have had a few beers and enjoyed DBZ as kids, at which point you will no doubt have endless fun shouting out the names of the attacks you unleash on Cell, or voicing the dialogue of the characters you play as. But sadly, I found it bland and unexciting, which is the worst thing you could say about a Dragonball Z game.

Recommended? No.

hypertheticals

Finally, to cap off the night, we played a bit of Chuck Klosterman’s Hypertheticals. We had actually encountered Hypertheticals on a previous game night, and had thoroughly enjoyed it. Hypertheticals is not a game per se, so much as it a conversation starter. Participants take turns drawing cards and reading the questions aloud, and everyone involved takes turns answering the questions and giving the rationale behind their answers.

The thing is, this questions always revolve around bizarre, off the wall and quite frankly insane scenarios, and almost always foist a philosphical, moral or ethical dilemma on the participants. Some (abbreviated) examples include:

-You can either have every piece of music you listen to for the rest of your life be Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box,” or your significant other’s collarbone will be broken every three years. Which do you choose?

-Would you rather be twice as intelligent as you are now, or be immune to sickness?

-You wake up in Bruce Springsteen’s body. What do you do?

-How would you fistfight someone while wearing a spacesuit on the moon?

What I love about Hypertheticals isn’t just the conversations it starts, but what it reveals about people when they give their reasoning behind certain situations. You can learn, for instance, what a person’s attitude is towards sacrificing something for someone they love, or what their values are, or how they would proceed in an unusual or difficult situation. And sometimes it sparks interesting debates– Nicole and I spent several minutes, for instance, arguing over whether someone who commits crimes in jail should be tried for said crimes, even if he was originally wrongfully imprisoned. I highly recommend Hypertheticals, whether as a quick two-player conversation starter or as a party game, if only because I’m a weirdo who likes seeing people adjust to unusual scenarios.

Recommended? Yes.

Of course, next time we go to Snakes and Lattes, way may try some of the more noteworthy titles out there. From what I understand, they may actuall have a copy of Blood Rage…

 

Batrep #5: From Darkness They Came

(Artist unknown)

Hundreds of miles below the Valkyrie, the surface of planetoid Ixis 37B was a jagged grey tangle of crags, peaks, and canyons, punctuated here and there by the bright orange of a lava flow. It was a low atmosphere rock where little sunlight pierced the perpetual gloom, and little or nothing lived. It wasn’t until you got closer to the surface that you saw stranger sights– rock formations hovering above the ground like strange, floating sculptures, perfectly hemispherical pits stretching for miles across, and strange electromagnetic signals seemingly originating from the planet itself– all of which had attracted the attention of the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Tempestor Stone of the Ironheart Grenadiers pulled his gaze away from the Valkyrie’s viewport to glance at back Alpha Squad. Around him, his Grenadiers were harnessed into their seats, busy doing last-minute weapons checks, saying the odd prayer here and there, and cracking jokes with one another– all standard rituals for a man about to make a drop. 

At least two standard Terran weeks ago, an Adeptus Mechanicus facility in Ixis had unearthed ancient ruins of xenos origin. Only a few days after that, though, the raids had begun: sleek craft, supposedly of Eldar origin, had started to strike at the outpost from the barren wastelands surrounding it, reaping a heavy toll on the Skitarii garrison before disappearing back into the darkness of the moon’s eternal night cycle. The attacks had been incessant, day after day, until the very last Skitarii had been slain. Now the Techpriests were defeneless, and they were calling on the Imperial Guard for help. They were adamant that something that they had found– an artefact of great significance, or so they claimed, though they refused to go into specifics– could not fall into xenos hands.

Task Force D-55’s mission was simple: extract the surviving Techpriests, and more importantly, the whatever-it-was that they had found. Ground assets– in particular, an armoured brigade from the Ironheart 23rd– were already on site, though Marshal Everson had also sent Stone and his Grenadiers in to provide airborne support and extraction if need be, and– as Everson himself had said– “to give those flying pointy-eared whoresons a taste of their own medicine.” Stone smiled at the thought, but it soon disappeared as he recalled the details of the xeno attacks. Whoever these attackers were, they had been capturing Skitarii alive with each raid, mutilating them, and leaving their barely-alive bodies nailed to cliffsides in full view of the Mechanicus outpost. This could only be the grisly handiwork of the Dark Eldar, he knew, which meant that  failure today would mean a fate much worse than death for him and his men.

“Vox reading from the ground, sir!” came an abrupt shout from Bishop, his pilot. “The ground column has sighted and engaged xeno forces at delta nine-five!”

Stone snapped back to reality. “Auspex!” he ordered, bracing himself against the upper walls of the Valkyrie as he strode down the length of the plane towards the cockpit. Looking at the auspex on the main console, he saw returns pinging to life on the circular screen– solid green blocks representing the armoured column sprang up, forming a loose row upon a topographic representation of the valley far below them. A yellow triangle blinked in the middle of the column, representing the asset that the Mechanicus wanted extracted. At the furthest of the valley, meanwhile, multiple white dots of varying size were suddenly appearing. Those dots were converging on the column with alarming speed. 

It was at that moment that the vox crackled to life. The cabin of the Valkyrie was suddenly flooded with a cacophony of screams, shouted orders, and a low, static-laced rumble that could only be the boom of battle cannons. 

“Shut it off,” Stone ordered, “and bring us into drop altitude.” He turned and strode down the other end of the plane to his men. “Weapons ready! We will be dropping in exactly one minute! Our opposition is highly mobile with multiple skimmer assets! Expect intense enemy fire and fierce resistance the moment we hit the ground!”

“So, business as usual?” piped up one Grenadier.

Stone flashed him a rare smile. “Business as usual, Grenadier,” he replied, as he flicked the power cell of his pistol and re-checked his grav-chute, before grabbing a hold of the overhead railing.

In front of him, the side door of the Valkyrie began to rumble open to the endless starlight outside…

 

So, I apologize for the long time it has been since my last batrep: life, as usual, has been fairly busy. A while back, though, I managed to get my first game with the new Dark Eldar in against a friend of mine who had just started on 8th edition himself. For the sake of keeping things simple, we agreed to a 1500 points game, with my Kabal against his Imperial Guard. I brought the following:

 

I took the following:

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A quick note: for those of you who do not like seeing unpainted models…I apologize in advance, but you are going to be seeing a lot of those in this game.

 

KABAL OF THE REVENANT SHROUD RAIDING PARTY:

KABAL OF THE FLAYED SKULL PATROL:

Dracon Khyrus (Archon)- blast pistol, Djin Blade, phantasm grenade launcher, Hatred Eternal
10 Kabalite Warriors- 2 blasters, splinter cannon
-Raider- dark lance, splinter racks
5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster
-Venom- dual splinter cannon
Sslyth
-Venom- dual splinter cannon
8 Mandrakes
Ravager- 3 dark lances
Razorwing Jetfighter- 2 disintegrators

CULT OF THE RED GRIEF PATROL:

Succubus Karath Deathbrand- blast pistol, Blood Glaive, Adrenalight, Hyper-Swift Reflexes
9 Wyches- shardnet and impaler, Grave Lotus, Hekatrix w. agonizer*
-Raider- disintegrator
6 Reaver Jetbikes- 2 heat lances, Painbringer

PROPHETS OF FLESH PATROL:

Haemonculus Vakkan- stinger pistol, electrocorrosive whip, Diabolic Soothsayer
5 Wracks
-Venom- dual splinter cannons

Total Command Points: 7

*Yes, I know the agonizer is technically a bad choice against Imperial Guard, but I made this as an all-comers list.

 

Thoughts: In putting together this list, I wanted to try out the Alliance of Agony stratagem as well as the Raiding Force rules…and to be honest, I also wanted to try a little bit of everything. The general idea of this list was to have a solid core of firepower from my Kabalites and vehicle-mounted weapons, while the Wyches, Reavers, and deep striking Mandrakes would try to force my opponent to deal with multiple close combat threats at once.

 

My Imperial Guard opponent, meanwhile, brought the following:

 

IRONHEART EXPEDITIONARY FORCES:

MILITARUM TEMPESTUS BATTALLION:

Tempestor Prime Stone- hot-shot laspistol, Blade of Conquest, Draconian Disciplinarian
Primaris Psyker- Psychic Barrier, Emperor’s Gaze
7 Scions- 2 meltaguns, Tempestor w. power axe
7 Scions- 2 meltaguns, Tempestor w. power sword
7 Scions- 2 plasma guns, Tempestor w. power sword
Scion Command Squad- flamer, plasma gun, grenade launcher, medi-pack
Techpriest Enginseer
4 Servitors- 2 heavy bolters
-Chimera- hull heavy bolter

CATACHAN SPEARHEAD DETACHMENT:

Lord Commissar- bolt pistol, power sword
10 Veterans- 3 plasma guns, Sergeant w. power fist
-Chimera- hull heavy bolter
Hellhound- hull heavy bolter
Leman Russ- hull lascannon, sponson heavy bolters
Leman Russ- hull lascannon, sponson heavy bolters
Manticore

Total Command Points: 8

I’ll be honest, I was rather intimidated at first by both the sheer number of tanks at his disposal, and by the entire detachment of deep striking Scions that would be pouncing on my army in turn 2. It was at around this point that I began to wonder if I had brought enough blasters or lances for this battle. Still, this game was going to be a test for both of our lists. “Maybe I’m selling myself short,” I thought at the time, “maybe the Imperial Guard’s shooting won’t be so bad.” Ah hah hah hah hah…

 

For the scenario, we settled on The Relic– which we represented with an old pot of paint that my opponent had on hand. We figured that it had to contain some sort of fantastic STC construct, or blackmetal, or maybe the Imperial Guard is just desperately running out of silver paint nowadays.

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DEPLOYMENT:

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From right to left: I placed my Reavers far forward, hoping to advance and then charge on the first turn. Further behind, the Kabalites and Ravager hit behind one rock formation, while my three Venoms (one carrying my other Kabalites, one carrying the Wracks and the third carrying my Archon, Sslyth and Haemonculus) huddled behind the other one, hoping cover would be enough. My Wych Raider and Razorwing saw on the opposite far left flank, and the Mandrakes remained hidden in the shadows.

My opponent, meanwhile, had his tanks and Chimeras strung along in a loose formation, with his Manticore sitting far back on the right while one of his Russes huddled underneath a giant floating rock formation on the left, praying that the weird laws of gravity on this planet didn’t suddenly revert to normal.

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Incidentally I love this particular game board (at Sword and Board in Toronto). My opponent and I both were hazy on how the terrain rules would apply to so many elevated, floating terrain pieces, so we agreed that, because it was obviously a low-gravity world, it would take a full movement phase to get up and down any of the giant floating rocks, no matter how high they were.

I failed to seize the initiative, and so the Guard went first.

 

TURN 1

The Guard began the came with the Techpriest and his attendant Servitors bailing out of their Chimera and going into cover in the rocky outcroppings at the end of his line. The Primaris Psyker also exited his own character, walking on foot behind the tank line. Both Chimeras and the Hellhound both scooted towards the objective, while one of the Russes lumbered forward as well to get better line of sight.

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In the psychic phase, the Primaris cast Psychic Barrier on the advancing Russ, but suffered Perils in the process, losing 3 wounds in the mother of all migraines. In the shooting phase, the Manticore took aim at the Razorwing: I immediately used the Lightning Reflexes stratagem, forcing the Manticore to hit on 6s, but even then, it still hit with a few of its missiles, doing 3 wounds to the Razorwing. The stationary Russ, meanwhile, managed to spot the Ravager and opened fire: once again, I was forced to use Lightning Reflexes, but it availed me little– the sheer number of shots the double-shooting Russ was able to unleash with its battle cannon and secondary weapons did 5 wounds to the Ravager, leaving it teetering just short of its second damage bracket.

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The pain didn’t end there, though. The Russ that had moved managed to draw line of sight to my Archon’s Venom. This time, I opted to conserve command points and not use Lightning Reflexes– which may have turned out to be a bad move.

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The Venom was smashed like an egg by the battle cannon round, sending my Archon, the Sslyth and the Haemonculous all tumbling out in the wreckage, more outraged than hurt.Finally, one of the Chimeras managed to draw line of sight to my Reavers, firing its guns and pinging a wound off of one of them. Overall, that turn could have been worse, but I had just lost First Blood and been given a painful example of how nasty Guard shooting is.

On my turn, my Archon absolutely refused to trek across the battlefield on foot, and ordered the Wracks to vacate their Venom while he and his posse boarded it in turn, before it and most of my other vehicles advanced up onto the ridge. For the rest of the battle, the Wracks would have to make it on foot like the dregs that they were.

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The only exceptions were the Razorwing, which made a long advance around the left flank to be all sneaky and stuff, and the Reavers, who advanced screaming towards the nearest Leman Russ. The Wych Raider also advanced, zooming along the rock formation to hopefully attack the rear of the enemy forces next turn. The Wracks, meanwhile, advanced towards the opening between the two floating rock formations, looking to possibly grab the relic in a few turns.

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In the shooting phase, my force was on an elevated position looking down on the Guard, all packed in their tanks like sardines, and prepared to open them up. I concentrated my fire on the closest Leman Russ…

…and did dismally. Heat lances, dark lances and blasters all fired down at the packed human vehicles, and all either missed or failed to wound. When the dust cleared, despite me firing practically my entire army and spending two command points in the process, I had only done 3 wounds to the foremost Leman Russ, and 2 wounds to the Veterans’ Chimera.

Hm, okay, this was bad.

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In the assault phase, the Reavers tried to redeem themselves by charging the Russ. One of them was battlecannoned out of the sky on the way in, but the rest made their charge, doing one mortal wound to the tank with their grav-talons and another as their bladevanes tore rents into the big tank’s hull. The Russ did nothing back, and the fight dragged on, with the Reavers swarming the Russ and causing sparks to fly as they scraped at it with their bladevanes, jeering at the tank’s crew to come out and play.

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TURN 2

At the start of my opponent’s turn, the Russ, understandably, fell back from combat. At least it would be unable to fire this turn. In the centre, the tanks shuffled somewhat to get better line of sight, while the Veterans and their attendant Lord Commissar disembarked near the relic. At the back, the Techpriest led his Servitors up onto one of the floating rocks to get better line of sight to the Drukharii host.

And then the clouds parted, and it started raining Scions. A plasma toting squad came down right on top of the objective, ready to start freeming some pointy-eared xenos.

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Up on top of the floating ridge, meanwhile, the other two squads, the Stone and his Command Squad all dropped in a cluster in front of my massed vehicles, ready to put the hurt on as well.

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In the psychic phase, the Primaris Psyker casts Psychic Barrier on the Veterans, but failed to cast Smite. In the shooting phase, though, Stone ordered Elimination Protocols on the Wyches’ Raider; two of the melta-toting Scion Squads then combined their fire and exploded it! One Wych was killed in the ensuing blast, while the Succubus took 2 wounds, and the nearby Kabalite Venom took 3.

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The dust from the explosion had hardly even cleared when the Hellhound let loose with its flame cannon, failing to damage the Venom, before the Manticore fired on it as well, wrecking it with several ICBMs worth of overkill! The Kabalites were forced to disembark onto the ridge, shaken by the loss of their transport.

The pain didn’t end there, though. The Veterans, the plasma Scions, Servitors and both Chimeras combined their fire on the nearby Reaver Jetbikes, forcing me to again use Lightning-Fast Reflexes against the Vets. It didn’t help: even though one Veteran fried himself on overheating plasma, my poor Reavers were mercilessly blasted out of the air in a white-hot storm of plasma and laser fire. As an encore, the Leman Russ in the far corner fired on the Kabalite Raider, doing 7 wounds to it and leaving the fragile skycraft teetering.

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That last round of shooting had been brutal, and I’d taken some painful losss, but I wasn’t out of the fight yet. I moved my Wyches and Succubus along the narrow causeway to go after the Scions, looking for get some payback for the loss of their ride.

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Succubus’ paint scheme was still in progress at this time, like so much else of the army.

The Archon’s Venom moved further up on the causeway, looking to disembark its highborn cargo next turn. The various vehicles also angled for better line of sight, with the Razorwing in particular zooming down along the left flank to get a bead on one of the Leman Russes.

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That wasn’t all. A whispered chorus of hisses was heard as the Mandrakes arrived from Aelindrach, crawling out of the shadows near the Manticore, looking to feast on the mortals cowering within.

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In the shooting phase, Raider-mounted squad of Kabalites, eager to put their splinter racks to use, rapid fired down into the Scions holding the relic…and did 4 wounds, all of which were saved. This, by the way, was with them rerolling 1s thanks to their obsession, and getting exploding 6s thanks to splinter racks. Unbelievable. Their blasters, at least, combined to do 6 wounds to the nearby Hellhound, but failed to kill it. Sighing, the Archon, wondering why he had to do everything himself, calmly drew his blast pistol and exploded the Hellhound, killing 3 of the Scions in the blast! As an encore, the Kabalites who had lost their Venom fired into the Scions as well, killing another 2.

Elsewhere, the Archon’s Venom fired across the chasm at the Servitors, mowing down 2. The Kabalite Raider missed a pot shot at the foremost Leman Russ, but the Ravager was more accurate, zapping 4 wounds off of the ugly human tank…

20180506_162214…before the Razorwing raked it with disintegrator bolts and wrecked it! The Wyches fired their pistols at the Scions, but did no damage. Finally, the Mandrakes unleashed their baleblasts at the Manticore…and, despite their volume of shots, only did 1 mortal wound to the missile tank.

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In the charge phase, the Wyches multi-charged into the massed Scions across the bridge, and amazingly, didn’t lose anyone to overwatch! The Succubus followed suit into the leftmost Scion squad, prompting the Tempestor to heroically intervene. The Mandrakes, meanwhile, charged into the Manticore, losing 1 to a heavy bolter round on the way in. In close combat, the Succubus went to work, slicing and dicing apart 5 Scions from the rightmost squad with her Blood Glaive. The Wyches, however, performed less impressively, only killing 3 Scions from the other squad. In response, the Scions failed to hurt the Wyches, but did manage to jab a bayonet into the Succubus, wounding her despite her 3+ dodge save. Then the Tempestor swung at the Succubus, hitting and wounding twice…

…and crucially, the Succubus failed a save, even with a command point reroll! The hit quickly translated into 3 wounds that the Succubus failed to ignore. My jaw hit the floor as my tricked out Succubus was slain by a humble Tempestor!

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Meanwhile, the Mandrakes unleashed 21 attacks on the Manticore…and did no damage whatsoever. Even more embarassingly, the Manticore hit with its one attack and ran one of the shadow-fiends over! In the morale phase, at least, the last two Scions on the relic ran, as did the last two Scions from the squad that the Succubus had mauled.

 

TURN 3

In the Guard turn, the Manticore wisely withdrew from combat. The Veterans, undaunted by the recent demise of the Scions in front of them, moved up, letting the Lord Commissar behind them grab the relic (at the time I wasn’t sure if characters could grab the relic or not). Everything else stayed and took aim.

In the psychic phase, the Primaris Psyker once again cast Psychic Barrier on the Veterans, before Smiting he Kabalite Raider, freeming two wounds off of it and leaving it teetering on one. In the shooting phase, one Chimera tried to finish the Raider off, but its shots bounced off of the night shield. It was down to the Leman Russ, since the Raider was the only thing it could draw line sight to, and the big tanks inflicted half a dozen or so battle cannon hits on the Raider and brought it crashing to the ground, forcing the Kabalites to bail out on top of the causeway.

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Further in the backfield, the Veterans turned their guns on the Mandrakes threatening the Manticore, and managed to gun down three of them despite their shadowy forms. The Servitors, meanwhile, fired across the chasm at the smaller unit of Kabalites and managed to blast down two of them. Last but not least, the other Chimera trained its guns on the incoming Wracks and fired, managing to kill one of the freakish things.

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In close combat, Stone swung out with the Blade of Conquest and killed one Wych. In response, though, the Wyches sliced down the remaining four Scions, leaving Stone fighting them on his own. In the morale phase, the Mandrakes held their nerve, but one of the Kabalites from the smaller squad ran for it.

 

In my turn, the Archon and his posse disembarked, and moon-jumped down to the floor ot the chasm to hopefully assault the Veterans, while the Wracks moved up to hopefully do the same. The Venom also dropped down, aiming to shoot the Veterans up and possibly charge them to absorb overwatch.

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The remaining Mandrakes once again moved after the Manticore, while the Ravager dropped down to the floor of the chasm as well, angling to get line of sight on the Leman Russ while the Razorwing circled around to attack it from behind. All of my Kabalites, however, stayed put, as they were in comfortable firing positions against the hapless mon-keigh squatting beneath them.

In the shooting phase, the Venom shredded three Veterans, while the Kabalites…sigh…did nothing. Again. Combined blaster fire, at least, from both squads of Kabalites and the Archon managed to do 7 wounds to the leftmost Chimera, leaving it sitting on 3. The Mandrakes flung balefire at the Manticore but failed to hurt it. Finally, the Ravager fired on the Leman Russ…and hit and wounded with all three shots! I rolled for damage, and my opponent and I both watched in stunned amazement as the Ravager did 16 wounds, wrecking the Russ in one round of shooting! This, sadly, left the poor Razorwing without anything to shoot at, given that the terrain was severely limiting its line of sight.

In the charge phase, the Mandrakes once again charged the Manticore, the Venom charged the Veterans, and the Archon, Haemonculous, Sslyth and Wracks charged the Chimera, all without taking casualties from overwatch. The Mandrakes, sadly, bounced off of the Manticore.

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The Venom, meanwhile, at least managed to slice down one Veteran with its bladevanes, while avoiding any damage from the Sergeant’s power fist.

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The Archon, meanwhile, swung out at the Chimera with his shiny new Djin Blade, and managed to do something like 6 or 7 wounds of overkill, slicing so deeply into the human tank that he hit a fuel line and caused it to explode! The Archon and Haemonculous were both wounded in the explosion, while the loyal Sslyth was vaporized, as were two Wracks, and the nearby Ravager also took a wound, bringing down into its middile damage bracket.

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Elsewhere, the Wyches managed to do 3 unsaved wounds to Stone, leaving the Tempestor hanging on one. For his part, Stone swung back but was unable to hit his agile foes. And with that, the fight dragged on…

 

TURN 4

In the Guard turn, the Manticore again withdrew from combat, as did Stone– despite the bonus granted by shardnets, the Wyches actually lost the roll-off for No Escape, and failed to keep the Tempestor from escaping! Ruh roh.

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The Lord Commissar began to move away from my lines with the relic in tow, while the surviving Chimera moved up to place itself between the Commissar and my many, many guns.

In the psychic phase, the Primaris Psyker once again cast Psychic Barrier on the Veterans, and then followed up by Smiting the Venom, zapping three wounds off of the fragile skimmer. In the shooting phase, though, the Scion Command Squad opened fire on the Wyches, dousing them with flamer fuel, grenades and plasma blasts, wiping the squad out.

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In the rest of his shooting, the Servitors managed to mow down one of my Mandrakes, while the Chimera’s many guns managed to blast down another, leaving just one of the shadow-things standing.

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In close combat, the Psyker joined the fight against my Venom, swinging with his force staff and smashing one wound off of the skimmer and leaving it on one wound. The Veterans, sadly, despite smashing at it with rifle butts, rocks and even fists, were unable to hurt it (despite their Catachan strength bonus), and the Sergeant critically missed with his power fist. The Venom, for its part, failed to inflict any damage with its bladevanes, and the fight dragged on.

Except, that is, until my turn, at which point it simply flew out of combat. My Archon, Haemonculus and Wracks all moved towards the Veterans, and, more importantly, towards the relic, while the Ravager zoomed up around the protective Chimera so that it was now prow-to-face with the Lord Commissar.

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The last Mandrake, as usual, moved after the Manticore to deny it the ability to fire, while the Razorwing zoomed over the rock formation it had been behind to bring its weapons to bear on the centre of the battlefield.

In the shooting phase, the Venom got some vengeance as it perforated three Veterans, despite their protection. The Kabalites then followed suit with their massed splinter rifles…and, with their twenty-odd shots, killed only a single Veteran. To make it even worse, their blasters missed the Chimera completely! The smaller unit of Kabalites also decided to miss the blocky human tank. I decided that these idiots were going to be made an example of after the battle. Once again, the Archon had to show them how it was done, calmly taking aim with his blast pistol and vaporizing the last, piddly Veteran.

Next, the Ravager fired its dark lances at the Lord Commissar, scored two hits…and the Lord Commissar saved both of them on his refractor field!! The Mandrake, unsurprisingly, did no damage to the Manticore. The Razorwing, at least, showed some competence, unleashing a flurry of missiles and disintegrator bolts at the Manticore and doing 4 wounds to the missile tank.

In the charge phase, the Archon charged the Primaris Psyker…and even with a reroll to charges, fell short. The Haemonculus, however, had no such difficulty, making the charge into the started Psyker and felling him with his electrocorrosive whip, no doubt tying him up for his long trip back to the Dark City. The last Mandrake charged the Manticore again, and once again, survived overwatch, did no damage, but denied the missile tank another turn of shooting. Last but by no means least, the Ravager charged the Lord Commissar…and the two completely failed to hurt one another. Crucially, though, the relic was contested.

At this point, my opponent realized that there was no way he could keep hold of the relic, and threw in the towel. And with that, it was a decisive, albeit costly, win for the Drukhari.

Result: Drukhari Victory!

 

Thoughts: Wow that was an intense game. After those first two turns, I thought it was all over, but then slowly but surely, my dice started to behave themselves: my lances and disintegrators started popping enemy tanks, my Wyches went through his Scions like a blender (before dying to the Command Squad and the world’s luckiest Tempestor, anyway), and my massed splinter fire…um…it, um…well, the important thing is, I won.

Looking back, I see that my use Reavers and Mandrakes to tie up his tanks was really what won me the game: it wound up costing me both units in the end, but it did a lot to mitigate his firepower throughout the battle. And it’s a good thing too, given how amazingly some of my units failed– my Kabalites, in particular, were notable for their seeming failure to shoot down any Imperial Guardsmen, and the Wyches were not nearly as amazing as I expected they would be (though they were still quite good). I think ultimately what sealed the win for me was keeping his Scions isolated from the main game, tying up his tanks with my melee units, and successfully gunning down everything he had on the objective. The man of the match for my army, without a doubt, was the Archon, for managing to explode two enemy tanks in a row.

Some learning points from this game:

-I forgot the +1 attack provided by the Wyches’ blades– had I remembered, then I have no doubt that the Wyches would have chewed through the Scions (and Stone!) a lot more quickly.

-Heat lances SUCK! They might be decent against low-toughness vehicles, but against toughness 8 Leman Russes, they actually struggle to wound. In future, I will probably ditch them in favour of more blasters.

-I keep forgetting that I can use consolidate moves to move within 1″ of fresh enemy units and lock them in close combat too. Had I remembered that, I would have done so against the Scion Command Squad, thus denying them the ability to shoot up my poor Wyches.

Overall, though, I think this was a great test run for my Dark Eldar. For future games, I definitely want to try out Scourges as a possible dedicated anti-tank unit, as well as possibly toy with other Obsessions– I honestly found the Flayed Skull obsession more useful for denying cover in this game than for the rerolls to hit with splinter weapons (although that may have just been my atrocious rolling).

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more batreps, and more articles on my Dark Eldar army, in the future!

 

Lord Commissar Brok released his handhold on the Mechanicus container and threw himself to the dust as the Ravager came screaming down at him, the xeno vehicle almost black against the night sky. He narrowly avoided being skewered on the skimmer’s bladed prow, its sharp vanes narrowly slashing over him and lacerating his cloak. He felt the compression wave of the skimmer’s passing press over him, and heard the shriek of its engines as the damnable thing soared past. Spinning around, Brok raised his bolt pistol and fired shot after shot at the Ravager as it flew away; in the gloom, he couldn’t tell if any of his shots hit their mark as the Aeldari craft banked upwards away from him, its engines glowing a malevolent violet in the twilight. It would be coming down for another pass soon.

His vox bead crackled to life. “All forces, pull back!” came Stone’s voice. “We can’t win here! Withdraw to extraction points!”

Brok felt his teeth grind. “Belay that order!” he snapped into the vox as he stood back up, making sure that he was visible to the remaining Ironheart forces. “Stand and fight! You are soldiers of the Imperium, and you will triumph or you will die on your feet!” Swearing that he would execute Stone personally when this battle was over, he turned…

…and realized, for the first time, that he was alone.  Aside from the bodies littering the floor of the canyon and the smoking carcasses of the armoured battalion, he could see no living Guardsmen in the area. Even the Manticore had stopped moving, its missile racks pointing silently to the night sky. He was the last one standing.

He heard movement behind him. He immediately spun, power sword raised for a backhanded slash…

…and stopped when he felt something sharp and cold enter his chest. Opposite him was an eerily beautiful alabaster face, with features that were smooth and pointed, and golden eyes that glinted with amused malice. The Eldar was smiling, perfect teeth gleaming in the moonlight, and as Brok glanced down, he could see that the alien was holding a sword with a hilt embossed with a leering, daemonic visage, and a jagged blade that was lodged halfway through his chest. Brok felt nothing from the wound– nothing, that was, except for a strange, aching cold that was now spreading through his body.

“As you wish, mon-keigh,” the Drukhari sneered. The Commissar didn’t even realize that his own sword had dropped from his numb fingers– fingers that were starting to crack, and crumble into powder like dried parchment. “You get to die on your feet.”

Brok tried to say something, but his throat had become very dry, and nothing came out except a hoarse rattle as his mouth filled with dust. A second later, his skin cracked and sloughed off, crumbling, before his entire body collapsed in a rapidly disintegrating pile of gravedust. 

Sighing, Khyrus flicked the dust away from the blade and sheathed it, before turning to the container that the Commissar had been determinedly trying to drag away. “So, is this the little box that you wanted?” he grumbled, not bothering to hide the irritation from his voice.

“Indeed,” hissed a sibilant voice next to him. The Haemonculus Vakkan slithered up next to him, his multiple finger joints tenting as the freakish thing looked greedily at the container. “The Coven is most grateful for this gift, Dracon Khyrus. We shall do…wondrous things with its contents.”

Khyrus raised an eyebrow. “Not that I care, but…what is in this little container that you needed an entire raiding force to retrieve?”

Vakkan smiled– a ghastly, needle-edged sight. “A bygone relic, from a bygone civilization,” he replied. “A relic from which we will glean many, many secrets.” At the Haemonculus’ motion, the attendant wracks silently broke open the lid of the container and threw it open. Inside, Khyrus could see a mass of silver liquid, shimmering under the starlight in such a way that it seemed to glow with an inner light.

Reaching in, Vakkan dipped a hand into the liquid and pulled it back– the silver liquid now coated Vakkan’s hand, and, as Khyrus watched, seemed to writhe and twist like some living second skin.

“Tell me…what do you know of living metal?”